Funding boost for breakfast clubs at schools in Preston

Posted on - 7th May, 2024 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Education, Preston News, Schools
Preston Town Hall in Lancaster Road Pic: Blog Preston
Preston Town Hall in Lancaster Road Pic: Blog Preston

Breakfast clubs at more than half a dozen Preston schools are to get a funding boost.

It comes after Preston City Council decided to support the services with almost £80,000 it had left over in its budget.

However, the authority received an underwhelming response to its offer of financial assistance – with most city schools not even replying to a request for details of whether and how they would like to be helped.

Read more: Almost 6,000 fewer bus lanes fines handed out in Preston in last 12 months

As a result, the town hall has been able to allocate only £64,460 of the £79,440 it had available – and even that was a struggle.

Of the 70 schools in Preston, just 20 responded to the council’s survey – and only two were initially interested in taking up the offer of monetary support.   Some may have been deterred by the fact that the cash would be a one-off payment – not to be repeated annually – because it was coming from a budgetary underspend.

Five schools requested being put in touch with one of the nationwide school breakfast schemes in operation or other local community food providers in the city.

One of the pair of schools interested in direct financial help sought just under £10,000 to help cover staffing costs, while the other needed just £500 to buy additional food preparation equipment.

With so much of the leftover cash still unused, the city council approached the half dozen Preston schools with the greatest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals over the last six years – none of which was amongst the survey respondents.

The authority offered to support the delivery of their breakfast clubs for a single academic year. One insisted they did not need any help, but the five others are now sharing in £52,748 which will be spent on a mixture of staffing, food and miscellaneous expenses.

According to a report recently presented to the city council’s cabinet – which approved the use of the underspend from the 2022/23 community champions grant – breakfast club provision in Preston varies from school to school.

Some establishments offer the service to all pupils, while others take a “very small, targeted approach”, the document stated.

Staffing costs are thought to be the biggest barrier to schools delivering breakfast clubs – more so than finding the money to pay for the food itself.

Twenty-nine Preston schools are involved with one of the national school breakfast schemes on offer – including from the likes of Greggs and Kellogg’s –  while eight operate their own service and five use a private provider.

The almost £15,000 of unspent cash the city council had earmarked for breakfast clubs will now be delegated to the cabinet member for communities and social justice who will approve how it should be used instead.

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